What is female genital problems and injuries?

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Female genital problems and injuries: Overview

It's common to have minor vaginal problems from time to time. These problems can be related to menstrual cycles, sex, infection, and birth control methods. They also can be related to hormone changes, medicines, or changes after pregnancy.

A change in your normal vaginal discharge may be the first sign of a vaginal problem. Changes in urination also may be a symptom of a problem. These changes may include having to urinate more often or having a burning feeling when you urinate.

Conditions that may cause a change in your normal vaginal discharge include:

  • Infections of the vagina. These may include a yeast infection, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus (HPV), or herpes.
  • Infection of the cervix (cervicitis).
  • An object in the vagina. An example is a forgotten tampon.
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Examples are chlamydia or gonorrhea.
  • Vaginal medicines or douching.

Pelvic pain

The exact cause of pelvic pain may be hard to find. How severe your pain is and what other symptoms you have may help find out what is causing the pain. For example, a condition such as functional ovarian cysts may cause pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding when you aren't having your period.

Vaginal infections

If you think you may have symptoms of an STI:

  • Do not have sexual contact while you wait for an appointment. This will prevent the spread of the infection.
  • Do not douche. It changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. Douching may flush an infection up into your uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

An infection may occur when there is a change in the normal balance of organisms in your vagina. The excess growth of yeast cells or bacteria can cause a vaginal infection. Viruses can also cause a vaginal infection.

Common symptoms of a vaginal infection include:

  • Increase or change in the vaginal discharge. The discharge may be gray, green, or yellow.
  • Vaginal redness, swelling, itching, or pain.
  • Vaginal odor.
  • Burning with urination.
  • Pain or bleeding with sex.

If you are pregnant and have vaginal symptoms, talk with your doctor about your symptoms. Do this before you consider any home treatment. Some home treatments may not work, depending on the cause of your infection. Certain infections can affect your pregnancy. So it is important to talk with your doctor and be treated in the right way.

Vaginal infections may increase the risk for pelvic infections, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Vaginal or vulvar problems

Other vaginal or vulvar problems may occur from the use of birth control methods, the use of medicines, or changes in hormones, or as a result of changes after pregnancy. These problems include:

  • Vaginal prolapse. This may cause urination and bowel changes.
  • Retained tampon, birth control device, or foreign object.
  • Vulvar or vaginal injury.
  • Vulvar pain (vulvodynia).
  • Pudendal neuralgia. This can happen from pressure on the pudendal nerve in the genital area, especially when sitting.
  • Noninfectious vaginitis. Examples of this include:
    • An allergic reaction or irritation from chemicals. Examples are those found in vaginal sprays, douches, or spermicides.
    • Hormone changes related to menopause. An example is atrophic vaginitis.
    • Use of antibiotics and other medicines. These may change the balance of organisms in the vagina.

A young child with unusual vaginal symptoms should be checked by the doctor to find the cause. Vaginitis in a young child may be caused by:

  • A piece of toilet paper in the vagina.
  • Bacteria that have spread from the anus to the vagina.
  • The spread by the hands to the vagina of bacteria from an upper respiratory infection of the ears (otitis media) or throat (tonsillitis).

A young child with vaginal symptoms must also be checked for possible sexual abuse.

Rashes, sores, blisters, or lumps in the vaginal or vulvar area

Many conditions can cause a rash, sore, blister, or lump in your vagina or vulva. One of the most common causes of a rash is genital skin irritation. This may occur when soap is not rinsed off the skin or when tight-fitting or wet clothes rub against the skin. A sore, blister, or lump in your vagina or vulva may require a visit to your doctor.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.